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NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL NORTHEAST PLANNERS SHARE HOW THEY ARE LIVING THROUGH HISTORY

M E E T I N G S M A G S . C O M // F A L L 2 0 2 0 W I N T E R 2 0 2 1

INSPIRING IRL A brand-new event series sets the bar high for safe, live, in-person gatherings

LAKE LIFE AND LUXURY

The Finger Lakes region has a new active wellness retreat, complete with meeting spaces {8}


Colaboration Welcome to an Upstate New York meeting destination unlike any other. Our award-winning 3,400-acre resort features everything you need for highly productive gatherings in one convenient, pristine setting. We know these times are uncertain, so our event planners work with you every step of the way. With in-house IT and AV technicians, guests near and far can experience it all!

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TO BOOK OR BRAINSTORM YOUR EVENT 888.361.7956 | GROUPSALESSUPPORT@TURNINGSTONE.COM


State Theatre New Jersey


Contents NORTHEAST MEETINGS + EVENTS MAGAZINE | FALL 2020 / WINTER 2021

FEATURE

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Navigating the New Normal M+E checks in with local planners to see how they’re handling constant change and what they think about the coming year. By Megan Gosch

IN EVERY ISSUE 10 EVENT PROFILE The team behind Served Up created an extremely mindful, in-person event series from scratch. By Megan Gosch 24 PROFILE A new partnership for the PHLCVB brings some new perspective to Philadelphia planners. By Megan Gosch

MEETING NOTES 6 CVB SPOTLIGHT The Montco Wellness for Events initiative was created to make life a little easier for planners during this time.

7 TASTE Tastings 2.0 prepares and brings hot meals to attendees of virtual events in NYC and the Hamptons. 8 NEW HOTEL SPOTLIGHT Every meeting space at The Lake House on Canandaigua has views of the water.

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INDUSTRY UPDATES

NAVIGATING THE NEW NORMAL NORTHEAST PLANNERS SHARE HOW THEY ARE LIVING THROUGH HISTORY

18 REGIONAL NEWS What’s happening in the local community.

M E E T I N G S M A G S . C O M // F A L L 2 0 2 0 W I N T E R 2 0 2 1

INSPIRING IRL

Compiled by Megan Gosch

22 SNAPSHOTS The New York and New Jersey chapters of NACE had their first in-person meeting since March.

A brand-new event series sets the bar high for safe, live, in-person gatherings

LAKE LIFE AND LUXURY

The Finger Lakes region has a new active wellness retreat, complete with meeting spaces {8}

ON THE COVER

Planners of the Served Up series took social distancing seriously. Photo by Ryan Muir

P H OTO : V E R O I M AG E

6 GIFT IDEA Creative agency Gifts for the Good Life pivoted during the pandemic to create mailers for virtual events.

PSYCHOLOGY, PLANNING, AND PLANTS: Planners can help ease attendees’ minds at in-person events {pg 7}


FALL 2020 / WINTER 2021

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PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

IT’S YOUR BIZ»

SKILLED A/V PARTNERS ELEVATE VIRTUAL AND HYBRID EVENTS

Audio-visual partners take some responsibility off a planner’s plate when technology is of the utmost importance. BY MARK MILLER

VIRTUAL AND HYBRID EVENTS will be the norm for quite some time. To effectively host an event that is completely virtual or hybrid, meeting planners will need to partner with a skilled audio-visual team to provide the technical expertise and show

Mark Miller

is president of the Rental and Staging Network (RSN) and president and CEO of Markey’s Rental & Staging, a national rental and staging company, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana. With more than 35 years of experience in the event technology business, he leads RSN, a top-tier network of live event production companies throughout North America. The network allows event planners and producers to access the very best in live event production throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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Although virtual events may feel different, they are powerful and scalable, allowing people from around the world to gather remotely. With a hybrid meeting, both in-person and remote viewers can be engaged in a meaningful way. A skilled audio-visual team understands the technical wizardry that is required to bring everything and everyone together, using a combination of professional equipment and software platforms. “You have to be confident in your A/V provider and trust that they are invested in the success of your event,” said Steve Wildemann, president of Advanced Staging Productions, the Philadelphia area partner of the Rental and Staging Network (RSN). “Technical perfection, which translates to successful event execution, rises exponentially with an experienced crew. A good A/V provider is helpful and proactive, anticipating your technical needs before you know what you need.” When done right, virtual and hybrid events are engagement-driven, value-added experiences that produce results extending past the screen. Good show flow and scripting are critical for both inperson and virtual events. During a virtual event, “stage management” comes in the form of carefully timed introductions for videos and presentations, interacting in the comments, and creating a two-way experience for attendees that runs on time. Speaker coaching is also critical in virtual

settings. An A/V partner will guide presenters through individual “tech checks” to orientate them to the platform and make sure their presentation is displayed in an engaging way. They will also work with presenters to confirm that there are not any connectivity and speed issues that will negatively impact the presentations, as well as advise the virtual presenter about posture, dress code and maintaining eye contact. To support the live audience, an A/V partner will oversee the chat for those needing technical assistance, create a queue to take live questions and manage audience polling. Not offering a virtual component in today’s environment is a mistake—attendees expect an option to join virtually. For meeting planners, that means budgeting for elements of livestream or other types of webcasting in addition to in-person A/V event costs. “Whether your event is virtual or hybrid, A/V has a tremendous impact on audience engagement,” Wildemann added. “There are three elements planners should prioritize when choosing an A/V partner—trust, experience and a positive attitude.” Think of an A/V partner as an extension of the team, who enables the planner to focus on other elements of the event. With all the moving parts in hybrid or virtual events, planners shouldn’t have to worry about the technology—that’s for the A/V partner to handle.

P H OTO : (O P P O S I T E ) S E A N S M I T H

production knowledge.


EXPERT ADVICE»

Psychology, Planning, and Plants In addition to safety measures like masks and markers for social distancing, plants could help put attendees at ease. BY L AU R E N PA H M E I E R

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ith executive orders and restrictions across the country in a state of constant flux, not everyone is ready to jump back into meeting in person. While some planners are eager to get back to “normal,” the long-term adjustment to new meeting protocols and potential risks make some hesitant to gather. While wearing masks and social distancing can help keep attendees safe, intentional design choices—such as including nature-inspired elements and materials and plenty of plants—can also help to calm attendees. “Studies show that access or a view of nature, an experience of nature, lowers blood pressure and stress and improves mood and concentration,” says holistic interior designer Gala Magriñá, owner of Gala Magriñá Design in New York. Magriñá cites two reasons why nature has these effects on people. One is called attention restoration theory, which is “the idea that natural settings give the

brain a break from cognitively exhausting tasks.” For example, as professionals sit through an eight-hour conference, or go through a day’s worth of meetings, nature can help people’s brains from not getting too overwhelmed. Magriñá continues: “Nature draws our attention, but it’s an effortless kind of engagement, which they call a soft fascination—and although you’re engaged by it [nature], it still allows the mind a kind of rest and reset.” The second reason why nature can lower stress levels is related to the industrial development of the world. Magriñá explains: “We came from nature, we lived in nature, so our bodies relax in pleasant nature surroundings, because that’s where they evolved. Our senses are adapted to plants and trees and foliage, and not necessarily traffic and high rises. That’s from the 20th century, right?” So, as worries about meeting inperson during the pandemic continue, nature (and nods to nature) may gener-

ally help ease stress and tension. As an event planner-turned-holistic interior designer, Magriñá has practical ideas on how to incorporate nature into events. Of course, bringing in plants is the most direct way to incorporate an element of nature. However, not all budgets, venues, or planners can do this. Instead, Magriñá suggests displaying imagery of nature at conferences and venues with LED and plasma screens. Playing sounds of nature, such as a babbling brook, can work as well. Finally, orienting floor plans to maximize exposure to windows can help connect people to natural surroundings. With these tips, planners can reap the benefits of nature in order to ease attendees’ minds. Whether it’s during a global pandemic or not, having a little greenery around can’t hurt.

Get Connected GALA MAGRIÑÁ DESIGN galamagrinadesign.com

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PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION

CVB SPOTLIGHT»

A Planner’s Guide During a Pandemic

THE MONTCO WELLNESS FOR EVENTS INITIATIVE HELPS PLANNERS BY PROVIDING ALL THE IMPORTANT INFORMATION AND UPDATES IN ONE PLACE. B Y L A U R E N P A H M E I E R

Get Connected VALLEY FORGE TOURISM & CONVENTION BOARD valleyforge.org/ montco-wellness-for-events

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GIFT IDEA»

GIFTS FOR THE WORK-FROMHOME LIFE

Pennsylvania-based creative agency Gifts for the Good Life sends mailers to the homes of professionals across the country.

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hen attending a conference became synonymous with staying at home, companies had to determine a new way to leave an impression on attendees. As the choice of venue, decor, and many other physical elements of in-person events were no longer contenders, co-owners Susan Turnock and Heather Arak-Kanofsky of Gifts for the

P H O T O S : VA L L E Y F O R G E T O U R I S M & C O N V E N T I O N B O A R D ; G I F T S F O R T H E G O O D L I F E ; ( O P P O S I T E ) TA S T I N G S 2 . 0

PLANNERS HAVE ENOUGH TO JUGGLE when it comes to organizing meetings and events: from researching and booking venues to creating an attendee list and more. Then, the pandemic came and created another set of obstacles to clear. Now, planners have to stay on top of health and safety regulations and ever-changing governors’ orders in addition to everything else. In response, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) wanted to make planning in Montgomery County a little bit easier with their Montco Wellness for Events initiative. “Planners are already dealing with so many new hurdles, we wanted to try to remove some of the challenge from selecting a destination by making important information easily accessible in one place,” says Lisa Karl, president of sales and strategic partnerships at VFTCB. Specifically designed with groups in mind, the Montco Wellness for Events initiative is an information portal on the VFTCB website that provides updates for planners regarding COVID-19 and other well-being measures. Specific links inform planners about local hotels and venues and their approaches to cleanliness. Plus, the portal compiles current COVID-19 data and statistics from the county, state, and CDC. VFTCB also provides ideas for health-focused and patio dining options, and wellness-oriented activities such as bike routes, golf, spas, yoga and community give-back opportunities. With the Montco Wellness for Events initiative, planners can save time and have confidence in knowing that everything they need to remember when booking in Montgomery County is all on the VFTCB website. “This is the health and safety go-to resource for everything a planner needs to know when choosing Valley Forge & Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, as their meeting destination,” says Karl.


Good Life knew that they could supply the part that still makes an impact. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Pennsylvania-based creative agency has been ideating, creating, and mailing branded swag and gifts across the country to the homes of virtual events attendees and more. “It must have struck a chord, because it has really kept us very busy, luckily… I think you still have to connect with people, and the only way to right now is through mailers. I’m sure that will change again soon—well hopefully, in some way—but we can always be thinking one step ahead,” says Turnock. Although Gifts for the Good Life makes all kinds of swag items for specialty corporate clients, they pivoted to focus on mailers and kits throughout the pandemic. As of September, Gifts for the Good Life was sending out close to 500 boxes per week. Each client’s box is extremely tailored to the brand and occasion, whether it is for a company empowering work-fromhome employees with phone holders and lights for livestreaming on Zoom calls, or sending virtual events attendees notebooks and engraved pencils to help engage them in the day’s programming. Whether boxes are sent out for virtual events or to encourage attendees during extended work-from-home policies, Gifts for the Good Life delivers—literally and creatively. “We’re just an extension of the brand and take it seriously. And that’s something we’re well-versed in doing,” says Turnock. These thoughtful mailers can serve as a tactile reminder to virtual events attendees and work-from-home employees during the pandemic that they’re valued and appreciated. —By Lauren Pahmeier

Get Connected GIFTS FOR THE GOOD LIFE giftsforthegoodlife.com

TASTE»

Unexpected Benefits for an Unexpected Situation Tastings 2.0’s catering program for virtual events provides some added options for attendees. WHEN EVENTS went virtual, sharing a meal with coworkers and fellow industry professionals at in-person meetings and events became a realized luxury. The opportunity to connect with others over food disappeared for a while, but catering companies like Tastings in New York and Miami worked to keep it around by launching its new service, Tastings 2.0, in April. “Sharing a meal together brought a sense of normalcy that we were all looking forward to,” says Giovanna Mansi, events and PR director at Tastings SoFlo. Tastings 2.0 prepares and brings meals to virtual events attendees in NYC, the Hamptons, and Miami. The catering company still serves a “modern twist on French-American and reinvented classic cuisines of the world” amid the pivot, although a few considerations have been put in place due to the nature of delivery and the pandemic. Raw meat or fish are no longer served for safety reasons, and employees wear masks and gloves and take temperatures daily so that planners and attendees can have confidence in the safety of the food. This way, professionals don’t have to sacrifice sharing a meal and

settling for a happy hour instead. “People were already used to Zoom happy hours and celebrations. But they were only sharing a screen and a drink. We brought a meal to their houses that can be shared with all the attendees simultaneously, whether in New York, the Hamptons or Miami.” Meals arrive in disposable, eco-friendly packaging, or collectable ceramic dishes. Tastings 2.0 also works with rental companies to provide stylized tabletop packages, so attendees can choose between several themes such as rustic, neutral, beachy and more for their plates, glasses and linens. When it comes to customization, that’s not all: Attendees can request cake, flowers, and even a waiter to serve them in their home throughout the virtual event if they choose. While attendees wouldn’t normally get to customize so much at in-person events, Tastings 2.0 creates the opportunity at virtual events. Eating with others over Zoom isn’t the same as sharing a tablecloth and an in-person conversation, but this kind of service and personalization is a newly added benefit to an unexpected scenario within the meetings and events industry. tastingsnyc.com —Lauren Pahmeier

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NEW HOTEL SPOTLIGHT»

LAKE LIFE AND LUXURY

The Lake House on Canandaigua offers the perfect combination for travelers, planners and attendees alike. BY L AU R E N PA H M E I E R

LAKE LIFE PROVIDES a kind of tranquility and beauty that can’t be replicated. Often, it accompanies a woodsy cabin on the water, but in the Finger Lakes, luxury and lake life pair perfectly at The Lake House on Canandaigua. World-class amenities and a residentially inspired design throughout the building bring a sense of comfort to visitors, as well as the title as one of the “most anticipated hotel openings of 2020” by Vogue magazine. Just a seaplane ride away from NYC, the active wellness retreat offers 123 guest rooms. Almost three-quarters of them have views of Canandaigua Lake, so guests can garner views of the water from most places on the property. But not only do guest rooms have views, but all of the meetings and event spaces on the property do as well.

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The timber frame event barn can hold up to 250 people for a seated dinner, with plenty of windows to shine light on the gathering. In the off-season, the Sand Bar can turn into an events venue for lovers of the longtime local institution. Multiple conference spaces are available for business meetings and events, and the entire property can be bought out as

well if the event warrants the need. “The hotel evokes a residential feeling that is comfortable, relaxed, and stylized, yet sophisticated and down to earth. Additionally, the views of the lake and natural light are a meeting planner’s dream come true,” says Gerry Clark, executive director of sales and marketing. In addition to appreciating the views of the water, another way to consume the culture of the Finger Lakes is by eating at Rose Tavern, where a seasonal and regionally inspired menu translates into locally made wines, rotating entrees and more. Sunrise yoga and sunset cruises, waterfall hikes, and visits to the spa exemplify the luxurious side of the hotel on the lake. The ethereal quality of the interior design, wellness activities, food and location in the Finger Lakes make The Lake House on Canandaigua a dreamy, yet cozy place to host meetings and events.

Get Connected THE LAKE HOUSE ON CANANDAIGUA lakehousecanandaigua.com | 585.394.7800

P H OTO S : T H E L A K E H O U S E O N C A N A N DA I G UA

PRODUCTS, PLACES & INSPIRATION


PLANNER’S POCKET DICTIONARY»

Teachable Moment

New training and certifications are helping planners prepare for the new challenges this year has posed.

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nprecedented times call for strategic measures. With so many planners wondering how best to plan for the event-specific challenges posed by COVID19, industry leaders and top associations have stepped up to offer a road map with trainings on everything from cleaning protocols to new contract clauses.

G B A C S TA R A C C R E D I TAT I O N Designed to help facilities implement the industry’s highest standards for cleaning and disinfection of infectious agents like the novel coronavirus, the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR Accreditation Program lays out the proper protocols and best cleaning methods facilities and their key staff can put into action. The stadiums, convention centers, restaurants and hotels completing the program can provide planners with trust in facility staff, increased comfort and peace of mind on-site and assurance that facilities have been properly disinfected. gbac.issa.com

M P I PA N D E M I C M E E T I N G & E V E N T C E R T I F I C AT E Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) timely training was curated to help planners navigate and rethink their event strategies for sustainability in a postpandemic world. In partnership with the Event Leadership Institute (ELI), the certificate helps planners learn to strategize for maximum adaptability, develop checklists for safer event design and establish event tactics to reduce COVID-based risks over the course of 20 CMP hours, live calls, on-demand courses and live Q&A meetings. mpi.org/education

Get back to taking care of business safely, soundly and in style. With 150,000 square feet of spectacular meeting space, plus 2,000 luxury hotel rooms, we have the perfect place for you to get back on track. Our newly implemented Safe + Sound procedures are in place for your peace of mind. We are committed to remaining FLEXIBLE in the face of evolving conditions: • Zero attrition or cancellation fees • Zero risk in rebooking

Visit hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com/meetings or call 609-449-6060 today and receive additional booking incentives.

D I G I TA L E V E N T S T R AT E G I S T C E R T I F I C AT I O N Designed by event professionals for event professionals, the Professional Convention Management Association’s (PCMA) digital event certification helps planners learn to lead the design, delivery, monetization and measurement of effective online gatherings over the course of 12 combined classroom hours and self-paced study time that allows for interaction with top digital event experts. pcma.org/products/des

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EVENT PROFILE SERVED UP

INSPIRING IRL

The team behind Served Up brought a brand-new, live, outdoor, in-person, contactless, socially distant and engaging event series to life in the midst of a pandemic.

WITH THE EVENTS INDUSTRY at a near standstill, Jess Doren realized this may have been the moment she’d been waiting for. Having produced large-scale events for big brands like Apple and Buzzfeed, she’d had little time in the past to develop events of her own, but this past summer, she and a team of fellow event pros set out to gather a community craving connection.

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P H O T O S : R YA N M U I R

BY MEGAN GOSCH


Each event in the Served Up series had its own entertainment and socially distanced dining.

“The goal was to connect people again in real life on topics that really matter and provide a platform to celebrate our community in a time where we have so few ways to gather,” says Doren. “We thought, let’s show everyone we can still do live events, and do them safely.” The series included four outdoor, socially distant events centered on social change, with topics ranging from queer representation in the media to the revolution of the gig economy. Each event included a mix of live music and packed panels featuring speakers like Kate Tellers of The Moth and Todd Triplett, TikTok’s creative lead. “The structure for each

was similar, but once they got underway, the unique chemistry between the groups on stage and the attendees took on a life of their own,” Doren says. Attendees received personal bottles of hand sanitizer to eliminate gatherings at central sanitizing stations, and the use of a mobile ticketing system and QR codes enabled guests to order local food truck bites and canned libations from each table while minimizing touch points and controlling traffic flow. In addition to mask policies and temperature checks, guests sat at tables in clearly marked, socially distant circles that had been

carefully plotted to allow a safe distance between the seated pods and server, staff, and attendee movement throughout the night. “Having these clear designations really put guests at ease and helped them engage with the event itself and each other while still feeling safe in their own bubbles,” says Doren. The Served Up series was held in an open lot of local nonprofit and gallery Culture Lab LIC, which already had all of the necessary event permits in place, but Doren and her team also consulted closely with city officials, utilized CDC and WHO resources, and learned from the best practices being shared by expert planners to ensure the latest recommended health and safety guidelines were followed as well. Doren also worked with ParaDocs, a vendor which provides on-site event medics and COVID safety officers, and made sure staff not only had the gloves, masks and any other supplies needed, but felt empowered to enforce the policies put in place to keep themselves and guests safe. “Working together to make sure everyone could enjoy these events safely actually created this beautiful synergy and teamwork on-site,” she says. “It was this amazing feeling to have everyone excited and all in.” With the events self-funded by Doren, vendor support was paramount to the series’ success. “When you put on a free event, in New York, in a pandemic, you learn the strength of your true vendor list, and we were lucky to have so many partners so excited to be a part of this and ready and willing to make it happen,” says Doren. And based on the success of the first four events, Doren and her team are eager to plan a future lineup to continue the series (though they’ll likely expand to locations across the country to avoid hosting outdoor events in New York’s winter conditions). “One of the most important realizations we found in this pandemic is that we all missed each other and needed connection,” says Doren. “These events offered an experience where guests could feel something again, and if we can use this platform to help our community feel heard and inspired, we’ve got to find a way to push forward.”

Get Connected SERVED UP | servedup.live | info@servedup.live

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Navigating the

N EW NORMAL BY M E G A N G O S C H

IN THE WAKE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC, LOCAL PLANNERS AND INDUSTRY LEADERS SHARE HOW THEY’RE FINDING THEIR WAY FORWARD THROUGH AN EVOLVING EVENT LANDSCAPE.

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C

hances are, you won’t know you’re living through history until it’s too late. It’s already happening. A chain reaction has been set in motion and the ground has begun to slide beneath your feet. This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. As a global pandemic sent the world reeling, planners were left grasping for footholds as the event industry was brought to

a standstill, and many of the most fundamental elements of live meetings and events were cast in a new light. Of course, the pause didn’t last long. Planners quickly got to work, drawing from years of experience as master problem solvers to pivot like never before, while those who had already dabbled in virtual event formats put their skills to the test. Those early spring days were focused on the immediate future and plans for events already underway, but as weeks and months have passed, one thing has become clear: the ripple effects of COVID-19 won’t fade anytime soon. As planners begin to settle in to a “new normal,” we’ve checked in with local pros and industry leaders to learn how they’ve navigated an everchanging event landscape and how they’re approaching the year ahead.

SETTLING IN

After an initial shock to the system with the onset of COVID-19, many planners have spent the last several months getting a new lay of the land—navigating a slew of ever-changing executive orders, safety protocols and health and safety guidelines while working with clients to determine best fit and a new path forward. “I started the year with 30 confirmed events on the calendar. 2020 was going to be a mammoth year,” says Melissa Park, a global event producer based in New York. “Within a matter of months almost all had been canceled due to COVID-19. I think that speaks volumes about the moment we were in and how it’s impacted the industry.”

As many of her clients were forced to call their events off, Park assisted the few that moved to a virtual format and helped tie up loose ends with contract cancellations, securing refunds and finding new dates. Then she dove in on all of the latest virtual platforms and safety protocols, using the unexpected free time to get up to speed. “I tested dozens of virtual options to find a winner for future events and meticulously worked through my layouts and plans for events that had been canceled to understand how I’d need to update to align with safety protocols and new policies in place,” she says. “It was a mental exercise in staying fresh, understanding what’s possible in whatever this new normal might look like.”

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“Live, in-person events are where I work my magic, but if you’re able to blow attendees away online and convey your client’s message in doing that, the more likely those virtual attendees are to factor you in next year. If you blew them away online, of course they’ll want to see what you can do in person.” MELISSA PARK GLOBAL EVENT PRODUCER

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For the team at global brand experience agency Jack Morton, executive orders and lockdowns meant quick pivots and big decisionmaking for each client. “We’ve always had technology at the core of the experiences we build, but when COVID hit, it was a big task to keep up with the different government protocols and orders in so many different states and the question became, cancel or go fully virtual,” says chief client officer Craig Millon. For some of Millon’s clients, the pandemic set a quick turnaround in motion that transformed live events to fully virtual experiences in little more than a month, while others opted to cancel altogether knowing the event planned was not a fit for the virtual space. But with immediate events of those early spring days officially wrapped up, the Jack Morton team shifted gears and is able to help clients plan ahead. “Now that conversation is usually a question between hybrid or virtual and we’re planning for events with four or six or eight months of lead time, helping us make the most of those platforms and deliver a much more effective event for the goals they’re hoping to reach,” he says.

PROMISING PERKS

While everyone can agree the onset of COVID-19 has been a devastating blow to so many industries around the world, planners have been able to find a few silver linings in the upheaval left in its wake. Through the process of pivoting Cvent CONNECT 2020, an annual in-person premier event technology conference to a digital affair, director of meetings and events Rachel Andrews and her team found increased attendee accessibility and reach to be major benefits in the switch. “A virtual event allowed more people than ever before to attend CONNECT at a critical time where planners were hungry for guidance,” says Andrews. The conference, which

was held August 25-26, brought together 43,000 attendees—nearly 10 times the average of in-person attendance in years past—and eliminated time, cost and space constraints and allowed whole teams to tune in. “New visitors and people who might have never known Cvent were able to see what CONNECT is all about. There’s no doubt that increased exposure from our virtual event will lead to greater in-person attendance in the future,” she says. Morgan Doan, CSEP, PWC, principal and creative director for MORGAN EVENTS and chair of the 2020 ILEA Awards Celebration agrees, noting that this year’s virtual version of the association’s awards not only expanded the event’s attendee reach by removing any barriers in physical location, but also combined two distinct awards programs (ILEA’s Esprit Awards Celebration and the Spirit of Excellence Awards) as a cohesive show. “Rather than two separate awards programs with their own select attendees, we opened our doors to everyone in ILEA and the live events community, bringing a much larger group together for this one big night of celebration,” says Doan. “The more virtual attendees you’re reaching in your events online, the more potential future live attendees you could attract as well,” says Park. “Live, in-person events are where I work my magic, but if you’re able to blow attendees away online and convey your client’s message in doing that, the more likely those virtual attendees are to factor you in next year. If you blew them away online, of course they’ll want to see what you can do in person,” she says. Other major perks have included new partner and content possibilities, data that can drive ROI and new opportunities to learn and grow. Andrews notes the ability to secure topnotch speakers that may not have been available had Cvent CONNECT been in person, including CEOs from industry giants like Marriott, Hilton, Southwest and American Airlines. “[With] our ability to record sessions anywhere, anytime, we were able to secure an incredible keynote lineup featuring the


CONNECTING IN A TIME OF CRISIS WHILE MOST OF THE WORLD was in the process of locking down, the Jack Morton team got to work guiding the International AIDS Society (IAS) through a quick pivot of its annual international conference (the largest gathering of global HIV professionals in the world) to a fully virtual format. The traditionally live event that has actually been coined “the Woodstock of science gatherings” and draws 15,000 attendees from around the world, was transformed top-to-bottom with a five-day, 24/7 approach. The Jack Morton team used professional broadcasting tools and strategies to create a mix of virtual sessions and community networking forums carefully curated around a theme of “resilience” with fresh content shared constantly throughout the event. More than 20 high profile segments, including an “On the Red Sofa” series, gave attendees the chance to hear from leading voices in HIV response including Sir Elton John, David Furnish and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Speakers like Dr. Anthony Fauci and World Health Organization director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also brought expert intel to hot topics like COVID-19, global policy, activism, and more. The event was capped off with a special performance of “This is Me,” sung by Africaid Zvandiri. As the event drew to a close, it was clear the team had accomplished no small feat, bringing thousands of attendees together to learn and engage on the solutions to one epidemic in the midst of another in a time when attendees needed to connect most.

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At Jack Morton, we already had a lot of data sources we were pulling from our in-person experiences, but the amount of insight we can grab from virtual and hybrid events is unbelievably great, especially in a time when having access to time on your site, real-time participation and how your content is engaging your audience is more important than ever.” CRAIG MILLON CHIEF CLIENT OFFICER AT JACK MORTON

CEOs of leading global organizations—which only drove added interest to the event.” With attendees logging on digitally, Andrews and her team were also able to gather real-time insights to measure the success and effectiveness of the event’s programming through composite attendee engagement scores, click and page interactive metrics, real-time chats, user feedback and more. “Those data points give us insight into buyer interest and help us better personalize the customer experience … helping us to narrow down key takeaways, lessons, and areas of improvement.” “At Jack Morton, we already had a lot of data sources we were pulling from our in-person experiences, but the amount of insight we can grab from virtual and hybrid events is unbelievably great,” Millon says, “especially in a time when having access to time on your site, real-time participation and how your content is engaging your audience is more important than ever.”

E L E VAT E AND ENGAGE

With the novel aspects of pandemic life slowly becoming an ingrained part of the everyday

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grind, planners are facing a familiar challenge. “Now that the immaturity of COVID-19 is coming to a close, the free passes on livestream glitches or subpar webinars are up,” says Will Curran, founder and chief event Einstein for Endless Events. “Back in March and April there was this sense of camaraderie between hosts and attendees to show your human side, make mistakes and acknowledge that we’re all figuring this out one day at a time together. Today, not so much.” The demand for polished programs and engaging events—a pressure planners know all to well— is back in full force. “There’s kind of this mentality of we’ve all had time to figure this out, we’ve all sat through a not-great virtual event and knowing these aren’t going away, attendees are looking for more,” he says. Just months into the pandemic, Zoom fatigue had already become a day-to-day reality for planners and attendees alike. And with webinars and virtual happy hours starting to feel played out, planners are beginning to prioritize platforms and program changes that can elevate and engage virtual and hybrid audiences. “Zoom fatigue has truly made engagement a more difficult barrier, plus attendees are consuming a lot of bandwidth from top-notch content and experiences from industry giants like Apple and Netflix, so we’ve all got to be extraordinary again


and compete at that level, and that’s the true learning curve of this moment we’re living in,” says Millon. “That need to deliver online experiences at an exceptionally high standard is the greatest challenge.” Planners focusing on virtual and hybrid events are funneling more energy and effort into quality content creation. “So much of the end-user virtual experience is grounded in those under-the-radar factors—whether that’s sourcing studio spaces and videographers to support engaging pre-recorded programs or live sessions, editing camera angles and virtual presentation cues, or developing compelling content to keep attendees engaged between presentations,” says Andrews. “As planners, we are now TV producers and directors too.” And the more content planners and producers are creating for virtual and hybrid events, the more intentional the planning process has become. “There’s got to be some sort of check-in to make sure you’re not trying to replace a live experience with a digital one,” says Millon. “You don’t want to pretend you can take a live event and put it online because there are so many touchpoints the viewer at home is missing out on.” The Jack Morton team actually started hybrid and virtual presentation training a few months ago to hone best practices in engaging hybrid and virtual audiences as opposed to live, in-person groups. The team’s also focused on creating experiences that are as seamless from a user perspective as possible to ensure engagement. “Attendees are looking for easy, transparent online experiences where there’s no guesswork. They’re not wondering how to login or how to navigate the platform or how to network,” Millon says. “It’s like your first experience taking an Uber or a Lyft where the ‘wow’ factor is in the experience itself. The easier it is to use, the more users will engage and the more they engage the more they’ll remember what they took away from the event and how it left them feeling.”

AROUND THE BEND

As is the case in most historic, landmark shifts, the impacts of COVID-19 are sure to be notable and far-reaching. While industry experts are predicting a long-standing focus on digital events and a reinvigorated commitment to sustainable and eco-friendly event practices down the line, planners have begun to form their own predictions for the immediate future, with many seeing hybrid events paving the way for the foreseeable future. “In my experience and for the clients I work with, the moment we can all safely get back to live, in-person events, we’ll be ready, but right now hybrid events are moving things forward,” says Park. “The outreach opportunities to engage both virtual and in-person audiences is the best of both worlds in this moment, and it could end up attracting new attendees in the years ahead. Those connections made with your organization or client or brand will be something they’ll remember and could inspire them to join in person when they’re ready and able.” Based on his work with clients, Curran anticipates an uptick in hybrid events as well. “I’d say hybrid is the new event— as in, we don’t even need to call them ‘hybrid’ events because ‘event’ will synonymous with the hybrid platform and everyone will assume there’s going to be some sort of virtual element involved.” Earlier in 2020, Curran’s clients were hoping to plan for in-person events with a virtual component in case they needed to go digital. “In the year ahead I’m hoping we’ll see groups doing the opposite with a virtual-first mindset, forming full digital plans and an in-person element in mind in case it’s possible.”

Get Connected CVENT cvent.com | 866.318.4358​​​​​​ ENDLESS EVENTS helloendless.com | 855.366.8363 EVENTS NORTH eventsnorth.com | 231.883.2708 ILEA | ileahub.com | 571.685.8010 JACK MORTON | jackmorton.com MELISSA PARK | melissapark.co

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REGIONAL NEWS

NYC Crafts Hybrid EventHosting Models

Get your Northeast Meetings + Events news online! Be sure to visit ne.meetingsmags.com for even more exclusive content, regional updates, national industry news and more.

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With the creation of hybrid hosting programs that allow for both remote and in-person attendance, NYC & Company is working to spotlight local venues preparing to safely host meetings, conventions and events in accordance with public health guidance and regulations. “[Our] world-class venues have adapted to meet the current moment with innovative new hybrid models that will help us to safely welcome meeting delegates and event attendees back to the five boroughs once again,” says Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company, and co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition. From the Javits Center to unique studios and meeting spaces like Gotham Hall, Ziegfeld Ballroom, Studio 525 and Spring Studios, local venues are implementing best-in-class cleaning procedures, social distancing protocols and other health and safety standards to ensure well-being for events with smaller, local, in-person audiences with larger numbers participating virtually. In addition, NYC & Company recently launched a Virtual NYC Site Tours resource for meeting and

event planners, providing an up-to-date listing of businesses offering virtual site inspection tools during the COVID-19 crisis. nycgo.com/makeitnyc

Philadelphia Business Community Launches Regional Task Force The Greater Philadelphia business and civic community has launched a task force to re-energize the city’s economy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of Greater Philadelphia and the surrounding counties lost an estimated 8.1 percent of GDP, and approximately 735,000 people lost employment. The Recharge and Recovery Task Force, which was spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and its CEO Council for Growth, is a private-public partnership that brings together key leaders within the community to accelerate job and economic growth through a series of actionable plans and short-term solutions to fasttrack key industry growth. More than 120 members of the task force were strategically selected to create a galvanization of private sector leaders and task force initiatives, including building out contact-tracing infrastructure as well as creating paths to scaling up diverse job opportunities.

P H O T O S : N YC & C O M PA N Y ; ( O P P O S I T E ) P C M A ; L O E W S H O T E L S

BACK IN BUSINESS»


HOTEL NEWS»

Loews Hotels Launches Initiatives for Hybrid Meetings

EMERGING LEADERS»

Changed Industry, New Proficiencies PCMA is raising money to help professionals build the new skills they need in an increasingly digitally focused environment. Virtual events and digital skills have become vital to the meetings and events industry like never before. As it wasn’t absolutely necessary for planners to have these skills before the pandemic, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) stepped in to help professionals obtain the skills they need to help contribute to the future of meetings and events. “We knew early on it was up to the foundation to step up to the plate to help industry professionals recover and thrive. We listened to our members and learned that finding and funding reskilling and upskilling opportunities was No. 1 on their wish list,” says Meredith Rollins, executive director of the PCMA Foundation. In response, PCMA launched the Accelerating Reskilling Initiative. The initiative will fund 1,000 event professionals with scholarships for the Certified Meeting Professional online prep course, the Digital Event Strategist Certification, as well as access to PCMA’s event, Convening Leaders 2021. “PCMA’s seminal research assessing the pandemic’s impact on the business events industry, Business Events Compass, identified a number of career disciplines in high demand right now—digital event producers, visual storytellers, data analysts, and user-experience designers, among others,” says Rollins. “The research also affirmed the continued importance of skills in event design, participant engagement and financial planning/modeling.” To help reach their goal of raising $250,000 to fund the reskilling of 1,000 business event professionals, PCMA hosted a virtual fundraiser called Rethink, Reskill, Recover. The September event had 140 participants and raised $57,000 with the help of sponsors and individual donations. By the end of September, the initiative had raised $100,000. As in-person events resume, these skills will help prepare professionals for success in the meantime.

Loews Hotels has announced the launch of its new “StreamLine by Loews” brand-wide approach to virtual and hybrid gatherings. From large-scale conferences to intimate board meetings, “StreamLine by Loews” provides tools for planners to move events online, while maintaining a high quality of service at its properties across the country. “Our offerings are nimble in order to proactively cater to our customers’ ever-changing needs. ‘StreamLine by Loews’ is a deliberate virtual meetings experience aimed to exceed the expectations of groups looking to assemble in any way they desire,” says Alex Tisch, president of Loews Hotels & Co. As a part of the initiative, Loews has partnered with PSAV to offer turnkey state-of-theart technology studio spaces, featuring built-in technology to deliver professional footage in a styled environment, with the ability to broadcast globally. loewshotels.com

Get Connected PROFESSIONAL CONVENTION MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION foundation.pcma.org/accelerating-reskilling

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REGIONAL NEWS

TOURISM NEWS»

Construction is underway on New York’s newest cutting edge live entertainment and sports venue. Located in Elmont, New York, the UBS Arena at Belmont Park, a state-of-the-art venue developed in partnership with Oak View Group, the New York Islanders, and Sterling Project Development, is projected to open for the 2021-2022 National Hockey League season. The $1.5 billion project and the surrounding redevelopment is expected to generate approximately $25 billion in economic activity, including major infrastructure improvements, 10,000 construction jobs, and 3,000 permanent jobs (30 percent of which will be reserved for local residents). “UBS Arena is poised to become a global landmark entertainment and sports destination, leading us to partner with one of the world’s premier brands, UBS,” says Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group and leader of the arena project. “Together we’re eager to deliver on our shared promise of helping reinvigorate the New York economy, creating jobs, supporting a sustainable future, and safely providing an unrivaled, distinctive premium experience for all. We’re excited to bring our passion and unmatched guest service commitment to life, and we look forward to welcoming fans to what will surely become a popular global destination for world-class events for many years to come.” The UBS Arena is being constructed with sustainability in mind to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) v4 standards. The arena is also working with world-class sustainability experts to minimize the environmental impact of the venue and become a zero-waste facility with the use of renewable energy sources and reduced water and electricity consumption. The arena has also been designed for the ultimate fan experience as well as an efficient and effortless venue access for performers and crew, and will feature a state-of-the-art sound system that leverages sophisticated engineering acoustics to amplify the audio experience.

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Displays will include the largest scoreboard in the state with industry-leading, high-definition technology and two levels of high-resolution LED ribbon boards. Game presentation will offer dramatic theatrical lighting and ice video projections. Attendees will enjoy the arena’s 5G cellular and Wi-Fi service as well as a variety of VIP suites and club spaces. While the arena’s exterior and interior will pay homage to iconic New York landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal, Prospect Park Boathouse and the Park Avenue Armory,

the arena’s sprawling campus will also include 315,000 square feet of luxury retail and a 250room, four-star boutique hotel. Cutting edge sanitization processes will be paired with contactless technology and operational staffing and cleaning solutions to ensure the health and safety of patrons and staff at the arena. Facilities will include medical grade HEPA filtration, task-specific ultraviolet light systems and adoption of cleaning and disinfecting solutions that have been proven safe and effective in large-scale public spaces. ubsarena.com

P H O T O S : U B S A R E N A ; ( O P P O S I T E ) W H I T E FA C E L O D G E

Plans Announced for New York’s Newest Arena


PEOPLE NEWS»

Whiteface Lodge Appoints New GM Lake Placid’s AAA Four Diamond, luxury all-suite Whiteface Lodge has officially appointed Joe Giannino as the property’s

new general manager. Giannino brings over 30 years of industry experience to the role, having worked extensively with upscale restaurants and both branded and boutique hotels and resorts.

Giannino comes to the resort from IMH Columbia in Columbia, Massachusetts, where he served as the operations/asset manager of a new hotel development and oversaw all construction, design, procurement, and property management. He also worked previously as the area general manager with Modus Hotels in Washington, D.C., and as the general manager for The Latham Hotel in the capital’s Georgetown district. As one of his first acting duties, Giannino organized a food donation project in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farmers to Families Program to help deliver food packages to area residents in need. In his new role, Giannino will help oversee the 96-room resort, which was conceived by a former Olympian, modeled after the Adirondack Great Camp and offers several Olympic-scale amenities and activities as well as Lake Placid’s only resort spa and two handcrafted, luxury lean-tos, unique to the Adirondacks. “Joe’s great experience and leadership style, coupled with his outstanding record of management success, makes him a valuable addition to our team at Whiteface Lodge,” said Donald J. Urgo Jr., managing partner and general counsel, Urgo Hotels & Resorts. thewhitefacelodge.com

CVB NEWS»

NYC & Co. Launches Webinar Series for Planners New York City’s official destination marketing organization and convention and visitors bureau has launched a webinar series just for travel trade and meeting and event planners. The new series will provide educational updates and opportunities to connect with New York City’s hospitality, tourism, meetings and events industry, in partnership with NYC & Company member businesses. “As New York City’s five boroughs safe-

ly reopen and we look to welcome visitors and delegates when the time is right, it is important that we continue to connect with our trusted travel trade and planner audiences, to provide timely updates on the world’s greatest destination as we all continue to navigate tourism’s new normal, and to show how they, too, can go ‘all-in’ on NYC,” says Fred Dixon, NYC & Company president and CEO. NYC & Company’s Tourism Development and Convention

Development teams will be joined by representatives from featured New York City hotels, venues, attractions, museums, tours, experiences and more during the presentations. In addition, NYC & Company will soon launch a diversity webinar series to highlight the experiences of Black, Indigenous, People of Color communities and businesses throughout the city’s five boroughs. More details to be announced. nycgo.com

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SNAPSHOTS NACE NY/NJ MEMBERS ONLY RELAUNCH EVENT

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NACE NY/NJ Members Only Relaunch Event The New York and New Jersey chapters of the National Association for Catering & Events (NACE), along with the Banquet Event Strategic Task Force (BEST Task Force), held an in-person gathering in August, their first since the start of the pandemic. VERSA Rooftop and Restaurant in NYC served as the venue for 25 mask-wearing attendees, who met to discuss the efforts of the Live Events Coalition and the BEST Task Force’s efforts in government to pass legislation to open events back up safely, and to secure funding to avoid future closures. Speakers included Arthur Backal, CEO of Backal Hospitality Group and State of the Art Enterprises; B. Allan Kurtz, managing director of Gotham Hall; and Mike Warren, director of catering of CPS Events. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails were passed throughout the evening, as conversations about the future of the industry were shared.

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1. Arthur Backal, CEO, Backal Hospitality Group. 2. The VERSA Frosé. 3. Andrew Altschuler and Noah Weinstein. 4. VERSA Rooftop. 5. Adam Leffel. 6. The group at VERSA Rooftop. 7. Andrew Altschuler and Dina de la Vega, president, NACE NY/NJ Chapter. 8. Attendees could order with QR barcodes. –Photos by Frank Ammaccapane, Natural Expressions

SUBMIT YOUR EVENT PHOTOS To have your meeting or event photos featured here, contact the editor at lauren.pahmeier@tigeroak.com.

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PEOPLE PROFILE DR. DAVID NASH & KAVIN SCHIEFERDECKER

SETTING A NEW STANDARD

With a new chief health advisor, the PHLCVB is paving the way for safe and smart meeting planning. BY MEGAN GOSCH

I

n the wake of COVID-19, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) set out to provide planners with up-to-date intel and sound advice, appointing Dr. David Nash, founding dean emeritus of the Jefferson College of Population Health, in the process as its chief health advisor. Dr. Nash and Kavin Schieferdecker, senior vice president of the CVB’s convention division, share how the partnership came to be and its potential lasting impact. NEM+E: How did you approach the creation of this role? KS: The PHLCVB has had a life sciences division for nearly 30 years, so this wasn’t new territory for us, but with COVID-19, there hasn’t exactly been a lack of information available—just a challenge in deciphering the meaning of it all. Having a resource like Dr. Nash helps relay those reports in a way that’s easy to follow for our customers and for us as a destination. DN: I’m not an epidemiologist, but with my background I can be a translator in conveying what scientists and doctors are finding in a way that most people can understand.

NEM+E: What impact could this partnership have for the local event industry? KS: Everyone’s getting their buildings GBAC STAR-certified and ensuring their partners are taking the correct measures, but having the support of the life sciences sector here and of our city and state leadership to create partnerships like this that are com-

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Kavin Schieferdecker

mitted to the safety of our attendees and residents is unique. When the time is right to meet, there will be no more prepared city in the region than Philadelphia. DN: I’m also hoping this partnership helps raise all boats. The PHLCVB has had a running start, but we hope folks see this as an achievable model. The pandemic’s likely to leave people wary for the foreseeable future and for CVBs to have a direct connection like this to medical and health experts, that could be the future of hospitality in keeping people safe and the industry moving forward. discoverphl.com/phl-health-pledge

I L L U S T R AT I O N S : T R A C I Z E L L M A N N

NEM+E: What has the PHLCVB tackled in this partnership so far? KS: One of the things we’ve done is to start a webinar series where current and potential meeting planner customers can join for the latest insights and send in questions. We had over 80 attendees for our first, and there’s already so much interest for more. DN: People are nervous and don’t know what to trust as far as emerging data, so getting these questions answered and being transparent is huge. These are open mic and unscripted, and I might not have all of the answers, but I’m able to tap the many amazing scientists and researchers in the area—what we like to call “meds and eds”—for answers we can bring back to everyone. KS: And it’s sessions like these that translate those “meds and eds” into “beds.” We’re in an education corridor between Boston and D.C., where the life sciences sector accounted for 27 percent of our citywide business activity in 2019. The people coming to these sessions are a mix of customers with business booked as soon as 2021 or 2022 as well as potential clients with events coming up in 2028 or 2029 and could result in key partnerships down the line.

Dr. David Nash


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